The combination of living in the suburbs of London and not wanting life to “stop” meant that I forced myself to embrace public transport with a baby pretty quickly. However, it didn’t come that easily. I remember the early tube journeys: I’d meticulously plan every part of it, I’d research which tube stations had lifts (the thought of taking a buggy on the escalator terrified me) which meant long walks between stations, I’d have to factor in another good 10 minutes to account for waiting time until kind people came along to help me up the stairs and I used to take a small suitcase every time I travelled. In short, it was a bit of a big (embarrassing) deal.
Flash forward a year and I zip up and down escalators (if you see a nutter balancing the bars of the buggy on her head, that’ll be me), I don’t have a clue which stations have step-free access let alone lifts and I stop the first person that walks past and gushingly, admittedly, ask for help. I’ve come a long way, and learnt a bit along the way so I thought I would share some of my learnings for once you are on board – and in this case, with someone a little older than a baby that requires a bit more attention.
For me, these simple tips make the difference between a journey spent chasing a barefoot toddler around a train carriage (yup, been there) and having one sat patiently on your knee nibbling on raisins whilst you get to read part of a book over his shoulder. The tips can really apply to any sort of journey, but are particularly focused on taking the train, tube or a bus. Take a read and enjoy the ride!
1. Take toys. Especially books. I cannot stress how important having on-board entertainment is. Books are particularly great; the amount of time you can spend pouring over a single page is remarkable.
2. Bring snacks. Or just food. I have a big tub of rice cakes and raisins which are my fail safe for journeys. I love raisins because they allow for some good time spent picking out each raisin one by one…
3. Sit near a window. This of course applies more for buses but it’s amazing how much time can be spent people watching. Or car watching. Or tree watching. Or building watching. Or even pavement watching. You see where I’m going with this.
4. Use other people. I’m that person on the tube desperately trying to catch someone else’s eye in the hope that they will engage Jack for just long enough for me to unashamedly whip on a layer of mascara or reply to a quick email. It turns out other people think your kid is quite cute, and are also in to peeka-boo, whilst Jack loves the attention. It’s a win win situation.
5. Use a light weight buggy (or a carrier) We have a chicco echo stroller which I love taking on public transport as it’s super light and slimline – which is crucial for point number 6…
6. Ask for help. I have spent large chunks of my life standing at the bottom of stairs just watching as people flock by. Take a deep breath and just. ask. The funny thing is, when you ask, no one says no, and more often than not they are all too happy to lend a hand.
7. Don’t travel at rush hour. Ever tried shoving yourself and a buggy on to a train carriage bulging with grumpy commuters? ‘Nuff said.
8. Avoid super long journeys. There is a limit to how fool proof points 1-7 are. I don’t tend to go on journeys that will exceed 40 minutes and would rather get off and walk the rest of the way with the buggy.
9. Plan loads of time. There is nothing worse than running along desperately trying to catch a bus, changing bag flailing and sweat patches forming. Allow a lot of time to get somewhere on time using public transport.
10. Don’t take it too seriously. Taking a little one on public transport will not generally be the most relaxing experience of your life. But nor should it be that bad. So even if you take one tip out of the above, I hope it might make the journey even a tiny bit better. I also made a short video on this ish-you so if that is your thing you can check it out here: